This is a quick heads-up that I will cease to care about anything or anyone else on the planet this Friday except for the four-part revival of “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix. Here are just a few things the existence of which I will forget about for six full hours:
My failed high-protein diet(s)
My unkempt eyebrows
Neo-nazis (see above)
Deep dish pizza vs. regular pizza
Daylight Savings Time
Zucchini noodles aka “zoodles”
The oceans (all)
The continents (all)
1066 (I know stuff happened but I forget most of it anyways blah blah England)
Most of History
Whatever generation I am
Non-fat Greek yogurt
Your racist uncle
Birth control methods (all)
Indiana (included in above “red states” but I want to forget it twice)
The New York Times
Sort-of-real-maybe news, but it was retweeted by Joss Whedon so who knows?
All birds, really
Whether or not there is a God(s)
Whether my direct deposit for work will kick in soon
The fact that we are all, as Dickens said, fellow passengers to the grave
Why? Because after this year, I deserve this ONE THING, OKAY? WE ALL DO! JUST THIS ONE THING! SIX HOURS! FOUR NINETY-MINUTE EPISODES! PLEASE JUST LET US HAVE THIS, UNIVERSE!
God, I’m so mean to Rory* AND I LOVE IT (steeples fingers, laughs maniacally, paces around evil lair).
Before the credits, Lorelai paints Rory’s toes red in preparation for Chilton so she can be a “bad girl” underneath her uniform and saddle shoes. Slow your roll, Lorelai, it’s not the end of season five yet, Rory’s got plenty of time to go bad!
After the credits, however, it’s Monday morning and Lorelai is the bad one, having overslept and apparently left all her profesh-looking clothes at the cleaners, so she has to drop Rory off at her first day of Fancy School looking like a rodeo queen, which, depending on whatever fetish the headmaster might be into, might actually give Rory an advantage over her fellow students.
They drive off to Chilton, and while Lorelai is perfectly happy to let Rory go in all alone, Rory insists that she come in to meet the headmaster. Of course, Lorelai can’t step three feet into the courtyard without immediately getting hit on by a Divorced Hot Chilton Dad, who, while ogling Lorelai, promises Rory that he’ll have his daughter look her up, which I’m sure won’t be awkward for Rory or his daughter AT ALL. Rory finally extricates her mother from her meet-cute and they go find the headmaster, walking by some snobby-looking girls who have apparently just finished a movie night marathon of Mean Girls, Heathers, and all the Amber scenes in Clueless.
Once at the headmaster’s office, they make it past a secretary who is most likely Norman Bates’s mother, and go in to find Headmaster Charleston, and…EMILY!
Lorelai is not thrilled, especially when she learns that Emily and the headmaster’s wife, Biddy (FFS people is this a real rich person name that exists?), are BFFs and the headmaster plays golf at the club with Richard every week. Emily and the headmaster are both, of course, EXTREMELY insistent that Lorelai take her coat off and sit down, so she is forced to reveal herself as the Rodeo Queen and neither Charleston nor Emily love her look.
After Lorelai reaches peak embarrassment, she and Emily leave Rory with the headmaster and go to argue about Emily wanting to be involved in Rory’s schooling. Lorelai eventually is like, FINE WHATEVER DO WHAT U WANT I’M AUDI 5000, but it turns out that she’s right to think that Emily’s interference is unnecessary, because back in his office Headmaster Charleston is being a grade-A dick to Rory. Don’t get me wrong, in later eps and seasons I LOVE people being dicks to Rory, but in this case it’s not cool.
After asking Rory about her aspirations (Harvard, then journalism, specifically Christiane Amanpour, because Rory doesn’t know what a shitshow CNN will be by the time she enters the workforce), Charleston basically tells her that he doesn’t give a fuck who her grandparents are and that because she’s a month behind and comes from a small town that she’ll probably fail(?). And while I personally think a hint to Rory not to expect special treatment because of her family name would be appropriate, telling a kid on her first day of school that she is likely to FAIL is not the best plan for any educator who wants to keep his job. It’s not the last time Charleston is an asshole, though, so at least his character is consistent.
Rory goes to the office to complete paperwork, where a student assistant steals her file and passes it out the window to Paris (yay!) and her crew, Madeline and Louise. Paris, worried about potential academic competition, devours Rory’s file and immediately hates her, since, as an aspiring journalist, she’ll probably be going out for the school paper–which is Paris’s bag. Paris laments the fact that they’re letting new kids in and wonders why they would bother. I have an answer for ya, Paris, it’s called MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY HEY HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS THING CALLED MONEY? WE HAVE HERE AT CHILTON AND WE WOULD LIKE MORE PLEASE THANKS BYE.
Back in Stars Hollow, Lorelai gets made fun of for her Rodeo outfit by pretty much everyone, and then once at home Emily calls to offer to buy Rory the entire Chilton merchandise store. It’s cute, but the action is mostly at Chilton, so I’m making a u-turn back to Hartford!
Rory’s in her first class, where Paris knows the answer to every question, making Rory feel like a N00B. Class is interrupted momentarily by the entrance of Tristan Dugray, who’s coming back from a visit to One Tree Hill seeing his sick grandfather. Next…oh, wait, I know that teacher! The teacher is Dr. Phlox from Star Trek: Enterprise! I KNEW I knew that guy!
Ahem. Sorry. Extreme geek moment over.
Anyways, Tristan is intrigued by Rory, asking the forty-year-old man posing as a student in the seat in front of him about her.
Tristan calls her a “Mary,” because she looks virginal, because…sure, ok, whatever.
A note: at no point in the entire episode do I see a non-white student at Chilton, which I guess is not a shock but pretty sad. Even in the early 2000s schools like Chilton made some kind of effort to admit a more diverse student body! Later on in the show I think we meet an Asian student who gets a crush on Lane, but right now I’m having trouble remembering any other non-white Chilton kids. Come on, Hollywood, I know it’s 2000 but you could have done better than this!
After class, Rory gets a ton of study materials (and the shit scared out of her about her workload) from Dr. Phlox the teacher, and is then promptly accosted by Paris in the hall. Paris informs Rory that this is her school, and the Franklin (the school paper) is her thing, and she’s going to be valedictorian, and they’re never going to be friends and live together at Yale AT ALL NAH NAH NAH I DON’T LIKE YOU! Rory, understandably, is like, -_-, but I giggle because in one of my head canon timelines Rory and Paris end up together lol.
At the Independence Inn, Jackson and Sookie are arguing about produce (peaches, specifically) and it’s cute and I can’t wait for them to get together! Lorelai comes in to bitch about her less-than-impressive Rodeo performance at Chilton, but Michel interrupts to tell Lorelai her mother is on the phone. Emily has bought Rory a parking space at Chilton and wants to buy her a car. Lorelai is like, UGH, so Emily backs off, but I’m sure Rory would be pissed to know her mom is turning down the offer of a car on her behalf.
At Chilton, Tristan introduces himself to Rory in the douchiest way possible, by offering to share his notes from their literature class, and then backing her up against a wall and being skeezy and offering to help her “study.” Rory is icked out, and so am I. I was never team Tristan, he was gross.
Meanwhile, Hot Divorced Chilton Dad has shown up at the Inn to ask Lorelai out. Showing some good sense, she declines, realizing how bad it would be to immediately date one of Rory’s classmate’s father. Not that the day could get any worse for Rory, who, at that moment, pulls too hard on her faulty locker door and knocks into Paris, who drops some sort of model on the floor, destroying it. Rory just went from a bug for Paris to squash to Paris’s Enemy No. 1.
Of course, Rory’s next class is with Paris AND Tristan “Harasser” Dugray. Paris was due to present her busted model to the class, but since she can’t the teacher wants to give her an incomplete. Rory tries to help out, saying she accidentally ruined the project, but Paris doesn’t want her help, which is…dumb? I get Paris wants to be independent, but, girl, Rory speaking up gets you an extension to fix what she accidentally broke. That’s gotta mean something!
Lorelai heads to Luke’s to fuel up on coffee before picking Rory up from school, and of COURSE mentions that Hot Chilton Dad showed up to ask her out because she’s definitely not interested in Luke’s reaction to this information, oh no, not at all! Luke makes this face when she tells him she turned the guy down:
This interesting moment is interrupted when Lorelai receives a call from her neighbor Babette, and goes home to find Kirk (ugh), except he’s calling himself Mick(?) because I guess they hadn’t figured out Sean Gunn’s character/presence on the show yet. Anyways, Kirk-Mick, or Kick, as I’ll call him, is there to install a DSL line at the house, which…did they not have that before? I feel like DSL was ubiquitous in 2000, right? No? I mean, it’s hard to remember as I’ve been personally plugged into the internet via telepathy since 2005. I am one with it. IT FEEDS MY SOUL.
Anyways, Emily has ordered the DSL, and Lorelai goes off to confront her, while at school Rory tries to pass Paris an “I’m sorry, let me help!” note, which, you’ll be SHOCKED to find out, Paris does not accept. Realizing, rather cleverly, the only way to deal with Paris is by blunt force, Rory instead begins calling out correct answers to the teacher’s questions. Paris is not happy to be beaten to the punch.
Lorelai confronts Emily at her hair salon to tell her to butt out of their lives. “I decide how we live, and not you.” As with all Emily/Lorelai scenes, it’s great, and made even greater by Kelly Bishop in a showercap:
Lorelai picks Rory up, and they commiserate about their mutually shitty days. After some pizza with Lane, who then has to go home to endless tofu from Mrs. Kim, Rory rather maturely tells Lorelai that she doesn’t need her help with Paris; she’ll deal with the problem on her own. This just makes me sad, because later in the series Rory seems to lose this ability to figure shit out on her own. How is 16-year-old Rory so much more mature and reasonable than 21-year-old Rory? Did I get stupider from 16 to 21? I feel like I got sort of smarter, though…not by much. I dunno.
They pass Luke’s, and Lorelai asks Rory if she thinks Luke is cute. Rory says Lorelai can’t date Luke because when they break up they won’t be able to eat there anymore. This is prophetic, but it doesn’t detract from the sweet last shot, which is of Luke gazing longingly after Lorelai in front of the diner before closing out as we are la-la-la’ed into the credits.
That’s episode 2! Next week, Rory and Richard go golfing and I die because I love Richard! TTFN!
*To be clear, while I have issues with Rory, I think Alexis Bledel does a great job playing her, in all her incarnations. Any faults with the character are with the writing, not the execution.
Where you lead, I will follow…especially if it’s in Connecticut and costs a looooot to goooo theeeeeeere!”
-My alternative lyrics to the Gilmore Girls theme song, “Where you lead,” by Carole King
Ok, so now that Netflix has officially confirmed that they’re doing a revival of everyone’s favorite show featuring Melissa McCarthy arguing with people about vegetables (except without Melissa McCarthy because there’s drama there), I’ve decided to embark on a new endeavor as a part of this blog: recapping Gilmore Girls.
This is partly an exercise in nostalgia. I loved GG as a teenager, mostly because of Rory’s character (I know, I know)–she and I were the same age, attended the same college, and both were, like, super white New Englanders. However, as Rory’s entitlement factor rose season after season I became less interested, and didn’t actually finish the mostly-awful seventh season until years later.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m re-watching the show with a new perspective informed by life experience as well as a strong sense of shame that any of us actually dressed that badly in the early 2000s, and I’ll be sharing that perspective in the recaps.
So, yeah. Let’s dive in!
Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot (a.k.a. Welcome to White Girl Problems, the Show)
“There She Goes” by the La’s play us into Stars Hollow, and apparently that song is supposed to be about heroin use? Who knew? (Well, the whole internet except for me, I guess, but whatevz).
Lorelai heads into Luke’s, and I laugh because Luke’s looks entirely different than the diner we will come to know and love over the next seven seasons.
Lorelai does a bit with Luke where she begs for coffee and he calls her a junkie, and the audience already knows that this is going to be the “will they or won’t they?” guy due to his scruffiness and the sort-of romantic tension over whether or not Luke will serve coffee to…a paying customer. When Lorelai sits down, a Dumb Guy comes up and hits on her. Lorelai owns him with a Jack Kerouac reference that goes over his head, and then a young lady who ALL BOYS ON THIS SHOW WILL INEXPLICABLY FALL IN LOVE WITH shows up–Rory! Lorelai gives her some lip gloss and returns her Macy Gray CD to her because a.) remember when we used to all have CDs? Wow that was a long time ago; and b.) remember that one Macy Gray song? It was pretty good! So that was a topical reference at the time that really must have drawn the kids in!
While Lorelai gets more coffee, Dumb Guy returns to hit on Rory. When it’s revealed that Lorelai and Rory are Mom and Underage Offspring, he splits, and we head into the credits, which I find a little thin without Liza Weil (YAY PARIS!).
After the credits, we get a peek into Lorelai’s life managing the Independence Inn, which is a little boring in hindsight for a fan. It includes a scene with a really annoying harpist who, thankfully, only appears a few times in the first season before the writers allow her to fade out of existence (the actress, Alex Borstein, is great, but her character has no point whatsoever). We also meet Michel, the stereotypically rude French concierge, and when Rory shows up to steal stamps from the front desk, Lorelai offers to have Michel look over her French paper. Michel is annoyed, and I know that Michel is supposed to be a crank, but come on–it’s not his job to proofread his boss’s daughter’s shitty high school French paper. I love Gilmore Girls, but I get annoyed at the actual Gilmore girls when they act obnoxiously entitled and think they get whatever they want because they’re pretty. Rory leaves after her mom teases her about her muumuu-style sweater, and goes to meet her best friend, Lane Kim, before school. While Lane is lamenting the fact that her conservative parents are setting her up on a hayride date with a future Korean doctor, Rory and her muumuu somehow attract the attention of a Hot Boy who’s posing in front of the school building.
In study hall, Rory does homework while some other not-as-smart girls paint their nails and are like, SO GROSSED OUT that she’s doing her assignment instead of writing a love letter or piercing her belly button or something. This scene is meant to show us that Rory is smart and bookish and Not Your Typical Teenage Girl™, and I guess it works. Though I never once saw girls in my high school get away with actually painting their nails in any class, even study hall.
Back at the inn, Lorelai hears an ominous sound coming from the kitchen, where we meet the inn’s head chef and Lorelai’s BFF, Sookie St. James (not Sookie Stackhouse, though I wonder–since Lorelai is catnip to all human men, and Sookie Stackhouse is catnip to all non-human men, what would happen if those two characters ended up in the same small town together, say Bon Temps? Would any of the vamps go for Lorelai over Sookie? If any other TV woman had fairy blood in her veins, it would definitely be Lorelai Gilmore! Interesting crossover potential there…ahem, sorry. Moving on.)
Sookie has had an accident, because she is somehow a master chef who is also so over-the-top clumsy that she spends half her life in a hospital. I don’t care that the show slaps Sookie with the Clumsy Girl label, however, because I LOVE SOOKIE SO MUCH. Lorelai tells Sookie that they have to have fewer accidents, and then they fantasize about owning their own inn together someday, and I fantasize that Sookie is baking me 3,000 cakes and then I collapse into a fantasy sugar coma.
After school, Rory and Lane are laughing at the silly Nail Polish Girls from earlier as they walk into Lane’s house, which also doubles as a chair maze/antique shop, so we can meet Mrs. Kim. I LOVE MRS. KIM AS WELL, even though her character starts out as a mildly offensive Tiger Mom-ish caricature. The evolution of her relationship with Lane over the course of the series is one of my favorite aspects of the show. For now, Mrs. Kim offers them some gross muffins and then asks them if any of the girls at school got pregnant and dropped out (heh). When Rory replies that one girl had a glow about her, Mrs. Kim makes this face, and it’s great:
Meanwhile, Lorelai surprises Sookie in the kitchen at the inn (where Melissa McCarthy is killing it with the physical comedy) with the news that Rory got into the Chilton School, a fancypants private school of fanciness and snobbery. Lorelai’s super psyched, because this means Rory will get to do all the things Lorelai couldn’t after she got knocked up at age 16, including going to Harvard and being fancy. Rory shows up and is equally psyched, though at first she thinks her mother is happy for another reason:
Rory: You’re happy.
Rory: Did you do something slutty?
Lorelai: I’m not that happy.
In hindsight, this exchange is a little weird, because…Lorelai is many things in the show, but she is not “slutty” by any means. She’s a serial monogamist, if anything. Not that there’s anything wrong with being “slutty,” aka having sex outside of marriage (according to some evangelicals), but I just found it a poor joke to make about Lorelai’s character. Meh.
Of course, in the next scenes, Lorelai gets the enormous bill for Rory’s tuition, which she has to pony up before Rory’s first day. She calls Chilton to see if they’ll cut her some slack because she’s an innkeeper, for God’s sake, and they’re basically like, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, which is the first of many instances when the Chilton administration proves itself to be comprised of assholes.
Lorelai frets to Sookie, who reminds a reluctant Lorelai that her estranged parents are super loaded and could solve all her problems for her. Lorelai really doesn’t want to ask them for money, but the sight of Rory all excited in her Chilton plaid skirt settles it, and she heads to Hartford the next day to beg for some ca$h from the ‘rents.
Lorelai’s mother Emily, who despite her faults is usually my favorite character in any given episode, answers the door, and thank God this is the only time we see her with this haircut. And also, did the makeup team just not get to her on set that day? I’m not shaming the actress, who is beautiful, I just think the hair/makeup people did her a huge disservice in the pilot; she looks normal the rest of the show’s run:
Richard, Lorelai’s dad, also shows up, and realizes immediately that since Lorelai is there on a non-holiday that she must need money. They’re pleasantly surprised to learn that the loan is so Rory can attend Chilton, but before Richard can write the check, Emily decides that there will be strings attached: Lorelai and Rory have to join the Gilmores for dinner every Friday night, and Lorelai has to keep them updated on the girls’ lives. Lorelai really has no choice but to agree, but she asks that the fact that she’s borrowing the tuition be kept a secret from Rory. Emily agrees, and the narrative thrust of the show is officially a go! Copy, Houston, we have a premise!
Back at Stars Hollow High, Rory is cleaning out her locker when she knocks into Hot Guy from earlier. Rory makes a Rosemary’s Baby reference, immediately bonding them together, and Hot Guy tells her that he’s just moved to Stars Hollow from Chicago (Rory: Chicago: windy…Oprah; Me: heheh) and that his name is Dean. The credits list him as Dean Forester, but I feel like we never actually hear his last name spoken aloud in the show? I’ll have to keep an eye out for that upon re-watching.
Rory is immediately smitten, and they end up leaving the school together so Rory can show him where to find Miss Patty, the town dance teacher/yoga instructor/former Broadway star/badass/general gossip, who will be able to help him get a job. As they walk, Dean confesses something to Rory:
Rory: I mean, I know it’s kind of cliché to pick Moby Dick as your first Melville but… Hey, how did you know I was reading Moby Dick?
Dean: Uh, well, I’ve been watching you.
And I’m like:
Then he explains that he just “noticed” her around town “every day” because she’s “nice to look at” and I’m like…this isn’t getting any less creepy, dude. Dean then praises Rory because one day she was concentrating so hard on reading her book in the town square that she failed to notice a guy getting his nose broken by a football. I would laugh at this, because never in my life have I heard of a guy falling for a girl because she’s such an intense reader that she neglects to notice bloody injuries occurring right in front of her, but this is Rory Gilmore, magical attractor of all boys in her vicinity (as the show will prove over and over), so I’ll let it slide. Rory is flattered by Dean’s interest, really flattered; so flattered, in fact, that she tells her mom at dinner at Luke’s later that evening that she doesn’t want to go to Chilton anymore.
Lorelai, already bummed because she is now indebted to her parents for her daughter’s sake, understandably is like, “We have to go to your grandparents’ for dinner tomorrow for an unspecified reason and also ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?” They leave the diner in a huff, passing Lane on her Korean Future Doctor Chaperoned Hayride date, which looks about as fun as it sounds:
Then they walk by Miss Patty’s, where the brilliant Liz Torres is hamming it up in the role with a cigarette holder and troupe of mini ballerinas. Miss Patty tells Rory she found Dean a job at the market, and Lorelai realizes that Rory’s change of heart re: Chilton is due to a guy, because, as she puts it, “You’re me!”
At home, they continue to fight, and Lorelai makes some really good points to Rory about not throwing away an opportunity to get a top-tier (if asshole-ridden) education for a guy (who, by the way, she could–and does–totally still date while going to Chilton). Rory, in a moment of well-played teenage brattiness by Alexis Bledel, is all, “WHATEVER I DON’T CARE WAAAH!” Lorelai ultimately pulls the “mom card” and tells Rory that she’s going to Chilton no matter what, and I yell “THANK YOU!” at my screen. Then they both listen to Macy Gray’s “I Try” in separate rooms on separate boomboxes, and the audience remembers once again that, yes, this show was filmed in the year 2000.
The next day, Lorelai is cranky at work, and not just because Sookie broke a gazillion-dollar Viking stove (and is still a master chef, come on, now!). She tries to make up with Rory by giving her a shift at the inn to earn bucks, but Rory remains bratty, so Lorelai is like, whatever.
Huh…why did I like Rory so much when this show was on again? Oh, because I was also a bratty sixteen-year-old? That must be it.
That evening, Lorelai and Rory are still in a fight when they arrive at Gilmore Manor, but they agree to put that aside in order to get through the meal. Emily does her best to start things off on the right foot with a toast to Rory, but Richard quickly derails the night by bringing up Christopher (do not get me started on Christopher, that’s for later recaps), Rory’s father, who is doing well with his internet startup in California:
Richard: He always was a smart one, that boy. (to Rory) You must take after him.
Oh, Richard, Richard, Richard. Don’t you know it’s Emily’s job to say shitty underhanded stuff like that? Is this opposite day?
Lorelai is upset by this remark, which, well, YEAH. She escapes to the kitchen, and Emily follows to try to calm her down, which of course backfires. Lorelai points out that her parents didn’t like Christopher so much when he knocked her up at age sixteen, and Emily argues that Lorelai’s life would be much better now if she’d just married Christopher like she was “supposed” to do. Of course, this is all just a lead-up to the real issue at hand: Lorelai ran off with Rory and shut her parents out of her life, wounding them both terribly. Lorelai explains that she needed to live her own life without her parents trying to control her, but this obviously doesn’t make Emily feel better. The whole scene is really well-written and acted beautifully by both Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop, and I love it. Gilmore Girls is always at its best when it focuses on family relationships, especially Lorelai/Emily and Lane/Mrs. Kim (in my personal opinion), and this scene is a brilliant example of that dynamic.
Their fight escalates, until Rory overhears her Lorelai mention that she wasn’t “too proud” to ask Emily for money for Chilton, and then Rory feels bad, which is good, because RORY IS BAD AND SHE SHOULD FEEL BAD.
Richard, however, does not feel bad:
Post dinner, a chastened Rory takes Lorelai out for coffee at Luke’s, and they make up. Rory tells Lorelai that it was really brave for her to ask her parents for money, and agrees to go to Chilton, because her cute-boy-related fit of insanity is over.
Finally, Luke comes over, looking “nice…really nice,” as Lorelai points out, though I don’t think his hairstyle is really working for him, even if it is the year 2000:
Anyways, Lorelai is intrigued by his hairline, and Luke is like, “yeah I’ve been in love with you forever…I mean, you want coffee?” and so the audience is reminded again that Luke and Lorelai are Endgame. He tells Rory not to drink so much coffee, because he doesn’t want her to end up like her mom. Rory tells him it’s too late for that, and the episode closes with the Gilmore Girls gossiping about boys in a scene that will serve as the end of the credits for seven seasons.
So that’s it! My first Gilmore Girls recap! I hope you enjoyed it! I want to do one of these a week (they take longer than you would expect), so join me next Wednesday for episode two, when we put on our uniforms, take the bus to Chilton, and meet Paris Gellar.